Music group Believe advises clients on how to circumvent Russian sanctions | The music industry

The French music group Believewhich has worked with artists such as Björk, La Roux and Slayer, is committed to keeping its operations open in Russia and advising partners on how to circumvent sanctions imposed during the invasion of Ukraine.

The company, one of France’s biggest tech companies valued at 1.1bn euros (£920m) on the Paris Stock Exchange, sent out a newsletter on Friday to its partners in Russia, including technology houses. records and artists, informing them of its operations in the region.

The update, which The Guardian has reviewed in both the original Russian and an English translation, assures its partners that it is still working and will continue to make scheduled payments, except for those whose accounts are from banks that have imposed sanctions.

The letter then offers solutions to legally circumvent the banking ban by advising to open a new account with an unrestricted bank and then linking it to Believe.

Believe works with artists and labels including La Roux. Photography: David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns

The translation says the company will continue to “quickly adapt our solutions based on ongoing changes.”

The stance taken by Believe, which helps independent artists and music labels around the world gain popularity via social media and put their work on streaming platforms such as Apple Music, stands in stark contrast to major players in the music industry.

The world’s biggest record labels – Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music – have suspended or closed their operations in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine, as have streaming services Spotify, YouTube, Deezer and TikTok.

Thrash metal band Slayer also used Believe’s services. Photography: António Lacerda/EPA

Believe has nearly 1,500 employees working in 50 countries and claims to provide artist, repertoire (A&R) and management services to 850,000 acts worldwide. Its operation in the UK lists La Roux, the singer of hits including Bulletproof real name Elly Jackson, Girli, Smoke the Engineer and The Plug as acts on her books.

Believe was founded in 2005 and floated on Euronext last year, making it the first IPO for a tech company in Paris since 2014.

Late last year, Believe made some leadership appointments strengthen its activity in Russia and Eastern Europewhere it is estimated to represent around 10% of global income.

“Russia and Eastern Europe have long been priorities for Believe as the company was the first international music company to establish a presence in the region in 2013,” the company said at the end of the interview. last year.

In November, Believe said it had a team of 50 people in Russia and was also active in 15 territories in Eastern Europe, with a team of 25 people, and had more than 1,000 customers in the region.

“This is a public company and they are watching all other companies – including the music industry – to suspend or close their activities because of what is happening in Ukraine,” said an executive. music industry. “Believe has gone in the opposite direction and not only promotes that they are still in the market, but also actively works to show partners how to circumvent sanctions.”

The company owns brands such as New York-based music distribution platform TuneCore, and in 2018 bought a majority stake in Germany’s Nuclear Blast, one of the biggest rock and metal music labels. home to bands such as Slayer, Sepultura and Machinehead.

Other music labels listed on the Believe brands page include: Allpoints France, who worked with Björk; AFM records, which has Anvil and Lordi on his list; and Naive, cradle of French artists M83 and Youssou N’Dour.

Earlier this month, Björk tweeted to her nearly 800,000 followers that she was canceling a show in Moscow after the invasion.

Companies and artists who work with Believe outside of Russia were not parties to the memo and are not tied to its stance on continued operations and payments in the country.

David Bianchi, Global Managing Director of Various Artists Management, which represents La Roux and other artists who have worked with Believe, said: “We were unaware of this situation and are holding urgent talks with Believe to verify all the facts about it.

“Various artists and the artists we represent stand in full solidarity with Ukraine. We will not engage in any commercial or cultural activities involving Russia or with Russian-related businesses and individuals in the future.

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Bianchi said he had asked Believe UK to remove all marketing and promotional images relating to La Roux from its website.

Believe did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

However, on the situation in Russia, the company has previously said that its “priority is to ensure the safety of our team members, artists and labels and their families in the region, to support humanitarian efforts to Ukrainian refugees and to adapt our activity in accordance with global sanctions”.

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